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Royal Mail text scam

Have you received a text message from Royal Mail asking you to pay a shipping fee? This clever little phishing scam is pretty convincing, and is costing victims thousands. We took a close look at this sneaky text message, so that you know what to look out for. 

What is the Royal Mail text scam?

This phishing scam is a text message, delivered to the victim’s phone. The message reads, ‘ROYAL MAIL: Your parcel has a £2.99 shipping fee. Please pay this now via: [link] or the parcel will be returned to sender.’ However, there have been a few iterations of this text message, some worded slightly differently, and even some which list Brexit as the reason for the additional fees.

This scam is slightly different from the phishing scams we usually look at, because it’s a text message rather than an email. The primary effect of this is that we’re used to receiving phishing emails; there’s even a Junk folder to send them to. However, when we’re checking our texts, we’re not as used to looking for phishing scams. 

Additionally, with phishing emails we’re used to looking for graphics that don’t look quite right, weird email addresses and spelling errors. There are none of these in the Royal Mail text scam; it’s a short text message that seems, at first glance, to be legitimate. This means victims are more likely to fall for the scam, and click the link.

The signs of a scam

Although this little text is convincing, there are some indications that this is a scam. The biggest indicator that you’re looking at a fake message is that Royal Mail does not inform you of fees that are payable over text. The postal service confirmed that in the event that you’ll need to pay a shipping fee, they’ll post a grey card through your letterbox.

It’s also worth paying attention to the link. The link in the text message is not royalmail.co.uk, it actually reads tracking-royalmail. Although this might sound legitimate, a real Royal Mail url will list the page address after the ‘.com’, not before. For example, ‘royalmail.com/track-your-item#/’. 

What happens if you click the link?

Once you click the link in a text like this, you’ll be taken to a page which looks like the Royal Mail website. There you’ll be prompted for your card details, or potentially asked for a lot of personal information. At this point, your card will be charged far more than the £2.99 the text suggests, or you could potentially be contacted by a phisher so they can extort more money from you.

It’s important to note that these kinds of scams can have huge consequences, and that the text message may simply be the beginning of a larger scam to con you out of more money.

One victim of the Royal Mail text scam stated that she was contacted by someone pertaining to be her bank, who quoted her personal information to her to prove that they were legitimate. They then stated that someone had attempted to set up direct debits, and to keep her money safe, she should transfer it to another account. 

These kinds of scams rely on making the victim panic; either by suggesting that their bank account is unsafe, or by suggesting that their parcel will be returned to the sender. Remember, that no legitimate bank will ever prompt you to move your money to a different account, and Royal Mail will not prompt you to pay fees in this way.

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